Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Open Gardens 2016

A village about twenty minutes from where we live had their Open Gardens on Sunday, so, as the weather was reasonable and I do enjoy nosing round other people's gardens, off we went.  We visited last time they were open, in 2014 and you can see the posts here and here . There was a variety of sizes of gardens but all had lots to interest the visitor.  Many of them had large borders, which showed the plants off beautifully.
 This poppy had escaped into the next door field.
 I liked this arrangement with peonies and delphiniums.  A nice place for a G & T (or cup of tea), depending on your preference.
There were small gardens behind a terrace of cottages which were beautifully maintained.  The owner of this garden made me laugh.  She told me that one of the organisers of the afternoon had sent all the owners badges to wear, but "mine's still in the envelope...I'm not wearing that!"
There were roses, lupins and geraniums a-plenty.
In the next door garden, there was some fiery planting with the orange and red of the potentilla.
 There was a very inviting deck chair in a quiet corner.
Hardy geraniums were everywhere and this one caught my eye with its gentle apricot and lilac tones.  It is a double flower, which meant it wasn't good for wildlife, but it was still very pretty.  I think it may be Geranium 'Summer Skies'.
These photos were from my favourite garden, which was very photogenic (and looked very labour intensive).
 There were some inviting shady area with lots of foxgloves...
 ...as well as some sunny borders with hot colours.
 The screens and trellis dividing areas of the garden provided some pretty views.
 Doesn't this archway make you feel that you want to explore?
 The rose had climbed right to the top of the tree and looked amazing.
The front garden was full of roses, cat mint and geraniums.  Scruffy would have loved the cat mint - it is a good job he wasn't with us!  We had a lovely afternoon and enjoyed sandwiches, cake and tea at the Village Hall.  A perfect Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Visit to Barnsdale Gardens

 I was very lucky to visit Barnsdale Gardens on Sunday, with my friends Katy and Alison.   Geoff Hamilton, the TV gardener, created the gardens and they featured on Gardeners' World for many years, until Geoff's untimely death, twenty years ago.  He was a huge inspiration to me in my gardening and it was through watching him that I thought I might be able to grow things too.
It had been so wet, we wondered whether we would be able to go, and the weather forecast wasn't that great, but in the event, the heavens smiled on us and we only had a couple of showers.  The gardens are about an hour or so away, but I don't manage to visit as often as I would like (I hadn't visited since 2013), so this was a treat.  Thanks to the recent rain, the whole place was green and verdant and full of birdsong.  It was really quite magical.  Also, due to the rain, there weren't that many visitors, so we almost had the place to ourselves.  Above is a lovely wisteria.
 This is one of my favourite gardens, the 'Country Garden', which has some beautiful birch trees and shade loving plants which give a woodland feeling as you walk through.
 The Town Paradise Garden has really matured and was full of lush growth...
 ...as was the Country Paradise Garden.  Hardy geraniums featured in most of the gardens.
 I was fascinated by the structure of this tree (I haven't a clue what it is).  It was quite spiky. (Edited to add: it is a young monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) - thanks to Amy for this).
 Looking across at the wildflower meadow from the Artisan's Cottage Garden.
 I have always liked this water feature, made from an old copper water tank, in the Recycled Garden.
 A little sparrow was enjoying a bath too.
 The Hosta garden displayed a wide range of green.  We noticed that some of the hostas were un-nibbled by snails, but others were rather holey - we decided this was all to do with the toughness of the leaves.
 The light shining through the leaves of the smoke bush caught my eye...
 ...as did this combination of planting, which contrasted so well and looked very vibrant.
 I liked the pastel mix of the Nigella or Love-in-a-mist.
Dan Pearson's design for this 'Cottage Garden' always looks inviting.  It has fruit trees amongst the roses and other perennials, and a small square box maze.  When the roses on the arches are in flower, they look and smell amazing - a previous post showing them in flower is here.
 I know that Alchemilla Mollis can be invasive, but when it has been rained on and the water droplets collect like mercury on the leaves, it can be forgiven.
 We all liked the Herb Garden with its mix of medicinal and culinary plants.
This was the view when we had a cup of tea and were joined by a robin, looking for some crumbs (which Alison gave him, of course!)  It was so peaceful, listening to the birds, looking at the plants and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Playing with watercolours, stamps and inks

 I follow a few stamping and card making blogs - not because I make cards, because I don't, but for the inspiration.  I had noticed a few mentions of a particular make of watercolours called Kuretake Gansai Tambi which people seemed to be raving about.  I am not a 'proper watercolourist' but I do like painting, so I thought I would do some research, which I did.  People said that these watercolours are creamy and can be used like a watercolour or a gouache, you don't need much as they are highly pigmented and they are beautiful to use.  Of course, I had to buy some to try them for myself, didn't I?  They come in a box as above...
 ...and are things of beauty!  This set even included silver and gold.  It was suggested that you should make a  colour chart on the lid, as although the colours are numbered, they aren't named in English.
 A little more research and I found a colour chart on a blog, which I really enjoyed creating on the lid.
 I also loved a range of layered floral stamps made in America by Altenew.  They had been sold out on a UK website, Seven Hills Crafts for ages, but I got hold of them in the end.  I have been really enjoying experimenting.
 Here are some examples of the layered effect the stamps give.
 They look like hand printed wallpaper.
 I haven't been quite so successful with the rose stamp...yet.
The peony stamp works beautifully.  Here I have embossed the outline using coloured ink and clear embossing powder and then used some of my other watercolours to fill in. 
 A simplified version using coloured ink pads and black details. Chris really likes the green one in the top right corner.
This one is my absolute favourite so far.  I used the tiniest amount of my lovely new paints in pastel colours and then overprinted an outline with a black ink pad.
The paints are wonderful to use and in my experience, they deserve the rave reviews they have been getting.   I am loving all the playing I am able to do and the different techniques these layered stamps can inspire.  Here's to lots more playing!
( I have bought all these products with my own hard-earned cash. No sponsoring going on here!)

Monday, 30 May 2016

My plants in Chelsea week 2016

 My plants have been busy during Chelsea week too.  The recent sun and rain has helped everything to shoot up.  Above is Clematis Asao.
 Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum with its beautiful maroon flower heads.
 Clematis Guernsey Cream, which I had planted and totally forgotten about.
 Astrantia Hadspen Blood, I think, but am not sure, as it could be Moulin Rouge or Ruby Wedding...
 Lilac and Magnolia looking lovely together.
 Allium Purple Sensation against the shed.
 A rather pretty combination of Gladiolus Byzantinus, Nemesia Confetti and Chive flowers.
Clematis Arabella.
 The star of the show has to be my patio peony 'Athens' which is in its second year with me and looking amazing.
Even when the flower is shut up in the rain, it still looks beautiful.

Wow!  Peonies may not last long in flower, but when they are in flower, nothing else comes close to them for sheer glamour.  They get my gold award this week!